GAA Football

There is no 'one size fits all' model for county success says new Louth manager Pete McGrath

Pete McGrath took Fermanagh to an All-Ireland quarter-final meeting with Dublin in 2015
Andy Watters

PETE McGrath says there is no “one size fits all” model for success as he looked ahead to managing his third team at inter-county level.

The vastly-experienced 64-year-old Rostrevor native was confirmed as manager of the ‘Wee County’ on Wednesday night and says he has lost none of the trademark energy that has delivered success at school, club, minor, U21, senior, provincial and international levels.

McGrath had been linked with vacant positions in two other counties before he committed to Louth. His four years as Fermanagh manager came to an end in July and he admitted he needed a period of soul-searching before agreeing to take over from Colin Kelly at the Leinster outfit.

“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go into inter-county football immediately, I just didn’t know,” he said.

“I think anyone needs a number of weeks after leaving a job just to refresh yourself, take a look around and decide what’s best.

“Louth got in touch and we met and chatted a couple of times and I decided that, if they felt they wanted me then, yes, I would be keen to go in and do what I could for them. That’s how it panned out.”

McGrath inherits a side that will begin next season in Division Two after back-to-back promotions under Kelly. After a stint as manager of Cooley Kickhams, he is familiar with the Louth landscape and hopes to get the best players in the county to commit to his first panel.

“I know what Louth football is,” he said.

“I’ve always had close connections with Louth and I know the passion there is for the game. There are 38 clubs in Louth so, for a smallish county, that indicates the strength of Gaelic Games.

“I have no doubt that there are plenty of good footballers, most of them are in the county squad and some maybe aren’t and it’s up to myself and the management team to ensure that players who want to play, and are capable of playing, are playing.

“Louth are always competitive, they are in Division Two on merit. It’s a tough division, I was in it for two years with Fermanagh and it is highly competitive but that will bring the players on.

“The season ahead will challenge me and the players, individually and collectively. Football at this level is all about meeting that challenge and putting in place structures and a setting that is going to appeal to the players and make them want to be a part of it and reach their potential.

“There’s no ‘one size fits all’ for every county. You have to go in, get a feel for it and get to know the players. I have certain principals about how a team should be run and what the ground rules should be and I’m sure the players will buy into that whenever they hear what I have to say.”

Louth, who were famously denied a Leinster title by a rugby-style ‘goal’ from Meath’s Joe Sheridan back in 2010, have shown some impressive, but intermittent, League form in recent seasons. McGrath says he intends to tap into the county’s “passion” and “commitment to the game”.

“Over the last 10 or 12 years Louth have gone up and down the divisions,” he said.

“They have had good patches when they have possibly punched above their weight and they’ve had other patches when they’ve gone back into almost mediocrity.

“So it’s getting consistency. But the one thing that Louth players never lack is a passion for the game, a commitment to the game. Whatever obstacles have come in their way there never has been a lack or desire or enthusiasm.”


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